Tag Archives: Andy Murray

Two aging ’80s rockers thrill me one more time. James Corden and Anna Kendrick do the history of a relationship through song. And Andy Murray and Serena, King and Queen of Wimbledon

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It is absolutely not a secret to regular readers of my little blog that I’m completely a child of the 1980s, love nearly all TV, movies and music about the era, and kind of think, at least musically, the ’80s were the best decade of music ever. The Sirius XM 80s on 8 channel is by far the most listened to in the Lewis-mobile, and much of my iPhone is filled with songs from that decade.

So when I tell you the wife and I took in a Pat Benatar/Melissa Etheridge double bill at the Beacon Theatre last week, you shouldn’t be surprised.

Loved, loved, loved the show. They each played for 90 minutes each, and while of course the only people in the crowd were aged 40 and up, and of course neither artist has had a hit since Bill Clinton was President, I was inspired by watching them. Here’s why:

It’s easy to make fun of aging rockers like Benetar and Etheridge, playing their greatest hits to an audience that knows them by heart, even if neither of their voices was as strong as they used to be (Benetar definitely used some pre-recording on the high notes of “We Belong” and “Invincible.”)

But they were inspiring because they were still out doing what they love. Singing the same songs for 20-30 years must get boring and repetitive, but both stars put everything they had into it, even at their age (Pat Benatar is 63! Seems impossible). They now play for 3-5,000 people instead of four times that number. But they still care enough about their audience to put on a great show, and no one left the Beacon feeling cheated.

As I rocked out to “All Fired Up” and “Come to My Window,” Benetar and Etheridge reminded that excellence is always to be appreciated, and that it doesn’t come easy. To be still near their best after so long is one hell of an accomplishment.

**Next up today, speaking of music, my dream girl Anna Kendrick teamed up with the fabulous James Corden for a really cool and funny skit a few weeks ago on his show, that I somehow missed.

It’s sort of a “history of a relationship using only lyrics to love songs,” and it goes from great at the start, rocky in the middle, and great at the end (like so many relationships, right?)

Anna’s voice is fantastic, Corden’s a great performer, and I just really loved this. Especially the frying pan bit.

**Finally today, a few words about the Wimbledon champions of 2016. Serena Williams once again dominated for two weeks, winning a very close final against Angelique Kerber and proving that at worst, Serena is among the top 2-3 players of all time.

Hard to believe this was her first major title since last Wimbledon, when she won her third Slam of the  year and headed into the U.S. Open looking for a calendar Grand Slam.
But she was entirely worthy and by far the best player this year at Wimbledon, and I again must give her kudos (since I have ripped her plenty in the past) for being so gracious and humble-sounding in her post-match interviews and comments. And winning the doubles title with sister Venus was pretty cool, too.

The story of the Williams sisters, as much attention as it has gotten, continues to be underappreciated. Two sisters from Compton growing up and being this dominant, and being good for so long, is amazing.

Also, this Serena point against Christina McHale in the second round was as good a point as you’ll see:

As for the men, well, of course I was very disappointed Roger Federer lost in the semis on Friday, but part of me was glad to see some “new blood” finally break through from the next generation of men’s players. Milos Raonic had a terrific tournament, but Sunday he ran into the guy who was simply better.

Andy Murray, remarkably, seemed to play better Sunday than he has all year, and he’s been to all three major finals. Murray was fantastic in all aspects Sunday, and when he won his 2nd Wimbledon title, he broke down much more emotionally than he did when he broke that long British title drought in 2013.

While I’m not a huge Murray fan (his on-court language and behavior toward his coaches/friends box is deplorable, and he has the worst body language of any top athlete I’ve ever seen), I admire how he’s persevered while clearly being the Ringo Starr of the “Big 4” of men’s tennis. He took advantage of Novak Djokovic’s upset loss and grabbed the crown.

And yes, I did think several times while watching the finals this weekend, “Man, I can’t believe I was actually there during this tournament!”

With Serena going for a record-breaking 23rd Slam title and the Djokovic-Murray rivalry heating up again, this year’s U.S. Open is going to be awesome. Can’t wait.

 

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Farewell to Muhammad Ali, the most famous athlete in world history. And Novak Djokovic completes a career Grand Slam in Paris.

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“You know I’m bad, I have murdered a rock,
I injured a stone, and hospitalized a brick.
I’m so bad, I make medicine sick.”

— Muhammad Ali, 1974

I have never in my life felt more utterly inadequate as a writer than right now, trying to sum up and analyze the life of the most famous athlete in world history.

Cassius Clay, who became Muhammad Ali, was more than just an athlete, of course. He was a trailblazer, an icon, a pioneer and a humanitarian, though we never saw that last attribute until long after his boxing career was over.

I’ve read so many tributes and obituaries to the “Greatest of All Time” over the past 48 hours, since I learned of his death late Friday night, and so many of them have been great (I’ll link some below).

It seems a criminal understatement to say Ali changed the world we live in. From the time he burst onto the scene in 1960 at the Rome Olympics, until his last major public moment, lighting the torch at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, he has been the most intriguing figure in all of sports.

I’m glad that most of the obituaries haven’t whitewashed his flaws; Ali was far, far from a saint. His philandering in regards to women, his horrendous, criminal verbal treatment of decent men like Joe Frazier and Ernie Terrell, and his race-dividing comments on behalf of the Nation of Islam from the 1960s should be as much a part of his legacy as his remarkable personality, his devastating skill in the ring, and the way he became a symbol of hope and courage in dealing with Parkinson’s Disease the last 30 years of his life.

As a writer I loved that Ali loved reporters, using them to entertain, and often inflame. What other athlete, ever, has written poetry like the one I quoted up top? He was an incredibly smart man, something he rarely got credit for.

I never got to meet Ali, which is a huge regret. And I was certainly born too late to have any real memories of him as a fighter. But I remember getting goosebumps seeing him up on that podium in Atlanta, a symbol of America in all its messy, complicated glory.

Before I leave you with the best I’ve watched and read over this weekend, I want to tell one more Ali story that’s always stuck with me, and always made me smile. The story may be apocryphal, it may be true; no one really knows.

The champ was on an airplane once and ignoring the flight attendant’s request to put on his seat belt.

“Superman don’t need no seat belt!” Ali exclaimed.

“Superman don’t need no plane, either,” the flight attendant replied.

Rest in peace, Superman. And thanks for taking so many of us on such a wonderful ride.

**The best on Ali’s death: This column by Jerry Izenberg, legendary sportswriter and Ali’s longtime friend, was excellent.

Robert Lipsyte was one of the first sportswriters to “get” Ali and what he was about, and has spent decades chronicling him. He wrote the New York Times obit, and it was outstanding.

And Dave Kindred, another legendary sportswriter, also covered Ali for almost his entire career, and wrote probably the best thing I read this weekend on the champ: 

— HBO, which always does the best sports tributes, put together this fabulous 8-minute piece on Ali’s life, with some of his most memorable quotes as well.

— And finally, I embedded the famous 1979 Billy Crystal roast/tribute to Ali, called “15 Rounds,” above. Damn, Billy Crystal is talented. His monologue/impression is just perfect.

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**While Ali’s death was by far the saddest sports news of the weekend, Sunday brought me and other tennis fans great joy, as Novak Djokovic finally won the French Open title that’s long eluded him.

I’ve written many times of my admiration of Nole; he’s my second-favorite player, I admire his generous spirit and genuinely good heart, and am thrilled he’s completed the career Grand Slam.

His match Sunday with Andy Murray wasn’t one of their classics; Djokovic started slow, then steamrolled Murray until the end, when at 5-2 Djokovic got tight and dropped two straight games.

I thought it was sweet how after he finally won, Djokovic seemed totally confused about how to react; he’d been thinking about this moment for so long that it was like he didn’t know what to do first.

He ended up painting a heart in the clay (a move Gustavo Kuerten first did at Roland Garros), then summoning a bunch of ballkids to salute the crowd.

He was gracious and classy as usual in victory, and I’m glad crowds finally seem to be responding to him.

Djokovic is up to 12 major titles now, and I can’t believe I’m ever writing these words, but he’s got an excellent shot to pass Federer’s once-unassailable total of 17 Slams.

I mean, Nadal’s body is cruelly breaking down, Federer hasn’t been able to beat Nole in a Slam in years, and Murray just can’t quite top his rival in big matches anymore.

Barring injury, who’s going to stop Djokovic? We are so, so spoiled as tennis fans, seeing three of the all-time greats playing in this era.

Win Wimbledon and then the U.S. Open this year, and Djokovic will have the calendar Slam that eluded Serena in 2015.

I think he’s going to do it.

A few thoughts on NFL owner idiocy. John Oliver brilliant on the Scotland independence debate. And a dude races the London Tube.

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So with all the personal excitement in my life last week with the baby arrival and all, I realize I’m a little late in commenting on maybe the worst week in NFL history.
Between the Ray Rice beating his wife video, the details of Greg Hardy’s abuse coming out, and Adrian Peterson acting unconscionably by beating his 4-year-old son with a tree branch, it’s been a period of time where anyone and everyone has criticized NFL commish Roger Goodell, and the culture of this behemoth league.

The one thing that’s struck me that I don’t think has gotten enough attention is just how incredibly out of touch and lacking in common sense and decency NFL owners seem to be.
Specifically, three who were in the spotlight this week: Steve Bisciotti (above left), the Ravens owner who had the audacity to say that if his organization’s complete bungling of the Rice discipline leads to greater awareness of domestic violence, than it’ll all have been worth it. Seriously, that’s basically what he said.

Then there was Carolina Panthers owner Jerry Richardson, who tearfully claimed that domestic violence was a hugely personal and important issue to him, yet allowed his franchise to suit up a linebacker, Hardy, who had already been convicted on domestic abuse charges, during the Panthers’ Week 1 game (he’s since been inactive.)

And finally, there’s owner Zygi Wilf up in Minnesota, who has decided that Adrian Peterson, who has had multiple child abuse/dangerment charges filed against him, only has to sit out one game despite his recent indictment. (Wednesday update: The Vikings indefinitely suspended Peterson Wednesday morning.)

As Keith Olbermann repeatedly, and devastatingly repeats in this blistering commentary, “A little boy was putting up his hands, trying to stop a professional football player from hitting him with a small tree branch.”

And yet Wilf thinks it’s fine for Peterson to play Sunday.

Three extraordinarily rich and successful men, who apparently are so isolated in their ivory tower that common sense and decency have flown so far over their heads. Three men who have so much power, power to do good, and yet obsfuscate and excuse the despicable behavior of men whose paychecks they happily sign each week.
You want to blame Roger Goodell and rake him over the coals? I’m with you.

But these owners have plenty of power themselves, and yet they shrink from doing the right thing, all in the name of winning football games.

Just pitiful.

**John Oliver has had so many memorable segments during his debut season of “Last Week Tonight,” it’s hard to pick a favorite.

But this one he did on Sunday, about Scotland’s huge independence vote coming on Thursday on whether to secede from the UK, was maybe the best one yet. The line about Mel Gibson and Braveheart alone (at :51) slayed me so much I had to pause the DVR so I wouldn’t miss the next line: (By the way, if Scotland secedes, does Andy Murray’s Wimbledon title last year still count as a British guy ending the enormous title drought?)

**Finally, in the category of “What kind of a brain comes up with a challenge like this?”, I present the guys from Epic Challenges, who decided to race the tube in London from one stop to another, by sending a man out of the station on foot and trying to beat the train to the next stop.

Mesmerizing, and oh so cool…

The Jets perform a Christmas miracle (a win!). Great moments in history performed in LEGO. And an awesome wedding proposal idea.

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Two of my good friends are die-hard Jets masochists (I mean fans) like me, and back in August I asked them both how many games the Jets would win in 2013. I thought 3, maybe 4, if everything goes great, they win five.

Both David and Mark, though, were strangely optimistic. Each said they expected 7 or 8 wins. They said this with a straight face, thought at that point after what they predicted you probably had enough evidence to check them into the loony bin.

But in either a sign that the NFL is really crummy this year, the Jets have been incredibly lucky, or Rex Ryan is a much better coach than I think he is, these horrendous, no-talent Jets won their seventh game of the season Sunday.

And shockingly, they looked pretty good doing it. Geno Smith was solid, actually improving for the first time in two months (hey, he’s only thrown 1 INT in the last two weeks!), the defense was good, and the receivers made a few plays.
And now, suddenly, it looks like Rex Ryan may keep his job as coach. I still think he should go, for his disastrous job coaching the team the last two years, and this one, and that as much as I love him as a fun guy, he’s just not a good head coach. His team is still way too undisciplined, takes way too many penalties, and he’s just not that good a judge of talent (Bart Scott, and Vlad Ducasse, anyone?)

Still, the Jets winning was one of only 11 bizarre things that happened in the NFL Sunday. A few that caught my eye..

— As Tommy Tomlinson astutely Tweeted on Sunday night, “does the NFL have to have an NFC North?” A pathetic display by the Bears Sunday night. Equally woeful effort by the Lions. And the Packers somehow gave up 38 to a bad Steelers team Lambeau. Wow.

— Gotta love the Miami Dolphins, in total control of their own playoff destiny, getting shut out by the Buffalo Bills.  Made my day even sweeter.

— Peyton Manning. I mean, what’s left to say about him at this point? (I highly, highly recommend Lee Jenkins’ profile of Manning in the SI Sportsman of the Year issue, by the way. He takes a fascinating angle on the story (interviewing all the kids named Peyton in Tennessee) and then gets fabulous details about Manning’s kindness toward all). Peyton broke Drew Brees’ single-season TD record on Sunday, as the Broncos thrashed Houston, pulling away in the second half. What an incredible athlete, one of the top 5 QB’s of all time.

**Next up, I thought this was all kinds of awesome. I’ve written before in this space about my love of LEGOs, and the geniuses who have put together these “sports moments re-created in LEGO” over the years.

Well now the good people at Mentalfloss.com have compiled some of the best ones ever, including some new ones I’d never seen. The one above might be my favorite, as it’s Andy Murray winning Wimbledon in 2013 and becoming the first British man to do it in 77 years.

But all of these great, especially the Chris Webber calling timeout thing from the 1993 NCAA Final.

Truly, nothing isn’t made better when it’s done in LEGO, am I right?

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**Finally, I thought I’d seen and heard it all when it came to creative marriage proposals, but a computer programming whiz inventing an online game for his fiance to play, and then get to the end and have the proposal be PART of the game?

Yeah, that’s a new one on me. But 24-year-old Oregonian Robert Fink did just that to pop the question to his girlfriend Angel White, and you can see the awesome video of Fink’s handiwork below.

Very, very cool.

Egypt and the messiness of democracy. An awesome maid of honor toast/rap. And the Taiwanese animators do Andy Murray

Supporters of Egypt's deposed president Mohamed Mursi, show empty cartiages from earlier clashes with Army soldiers at the Rabaa Adawiya square in Nasr City, in Cairo

When I see the chaos that’s been ensuing in Egypt over the past few weeks, including Monday’s killing of 51 Egyptians by the army currently controlling the government) my mind always flashes back to one image from that country’s remarkable spring of 2011.

It was a photo of a young man and an older man, standing together with their arms around each other in Tahrir Square. The expression on the young man’s face was pure joy and satisfaction; he and his generation had led a revolution few had thought possible.

The expression on the older man’s face was more like shock; he couldn’t believe after so many years that democracy was really coming to Egypt.

There was so much pure happiness coming from Egypt then, that few worried about how such a large population, faced with brand-new freedoms, would handle it.

It has gone disastrously. The first freely elected president was forcibly removed from office last week after only a year. There is really no government in Egpyt now; the hardliners want one thing, the Muslim Brotherhood another, and nobody seems to have any idea how to cobble together a leadership that will please everyone.

Part of me wonders if this is what the U.S. looked like in the early 1780s, after the war but before Washington was elected president. 

Maybe this is just what the early days of democracy look like anywhere; millions of people overwhelmed with new freedoms that they want it all, immediately, until the growing pains begin to bubble to the surface and massive problems ensue.

No one has any idea how long Egypt will resemble a cauldron of anger and unhappiness. This is all part of the process, painful though it is.

You just hope some stability can come there soon. And that the faces of the two men I keep flashing back to get to smile again.

**So it’s wedding season (yay!), and while I have to say that my wife’s maid of honor Jodi did an outstanding job with her toast, she did not quite go to the extremes this bride did. Check out the Eminem-inspired performance by the bride’s sister here.

Very impressive (and looks like a cool spot for a wedding reception, too!)

**Finally, some more “Andy Murray wins Wimbledon” fallout Monday. First, there’s been quite a kerfuffle about how the British press basically forgot about Virginia Wade’s 1977 Wimbledon title, since all the headlines have been reading “British drought over,” etc.

My take: Cut them some slack; nobody’s forgetting Virginia Wade. She had a great championship run and any tennis fan knows the London tabloids are talking about the British men’s title drought.

Second, not sure how many of you follow these Taiwanese animator videos of great sporting events, but they’re usually pretty hilarious. I really enjoyed this one they knocked out Monday on Murray’s triumph…

The drought is over: A Brit finally wins Wimbledon. A celeb 1st pitch like you’ve never seen. And more shameful U.S. secret spying revealed

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It has to be difficult carrying the expectations and hopes of an entire kingdom on your shoulders.

For most of his tennis career, that burden was too much for Andy Murray. It weighed on him, this idea that it had been seven decades-plus since a British man had won Wimbledon, and that he would be the chosen one to break that epic drought.

He came close, oh so close, a few times. Last year when Roger Federer beat him in a close final, he cried and said “I’m getting closer.”

Then he won Olympic gold on Center Court, and then the U.S. Open, his first Grand Slam tournament win, and suddenly you got the feeling maybe Murray would actually win the greatest trophy in tennis one day.

Sunday was that day. I didn’t think it would happen; I thought Novak Djokovic would be too strong, too steady, too mentally tough for Murray to handle.
But as I often am, I was wrong. Murray was fabulous, Djokovic was less than at his best, and for the first time since 1936, a British man is the champion of Wimbledon.

So many questions spring up in the wake of this tremendous win. Can Murray get to No. 1 in the world now? What the hell will the Brits complain about now? Did Djokovic’s epic 5-set semifinal win on Friday take too much out of him for Sunday’s final?

Man oh man, the storylines in tennis just keep getting better. Can’t wait for the U.S. Open.

**And now, one of the most unusual first pitches you’ll ever see. Many celebrity tosses are terrible, but this one is fantastic thanks to the delivery by  Shin Soo-ji, a rhythmic gymnast throwing out the first pitch at a Korean Baseball League game last week.

Very, very cool.

**Finally today, more ugliness revealed about the National Security Agency and their vast, secret spying on Americans. If anyone thought that the information Edward Snowden revealed a few weeks ago was the end of the NSA’s secret doings, I’ve got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.

This New York Times story reports that America’s “surveillance court” has “created a secret body of law giving the NSA the power to amass vast collections of data on Americans while pursuing not only terrorism suspects, but also people possibly involved in nuclear proliferation, espionage and cyberattacks, officials say.”

There are people who will be OK with this, who say that it’s all in the name of fighting terror, and that anything our government has to do, anything, it’s all well and good because we’re at war, we’re fighting the bad guys and this is how we have to do it, yada yada yada.

I could not disagree more with those people. This is NOT what America is about. This is NOT a nation where we just blindly trust our government to do what’s right and look the other way because we’re at war (how’d that go in 2003 when Congress let Bush/Cheney take us into that quagmire of Iraq?)

What President Obama and the NSA are doing is going outside the law without American citizens’ knowledge and doing things that just shouldn’t be done.

It’s shameful, and I hope more U.S. citizens start paying attention to what civil liberties of ours are being given up in the name of “security.”

A bewildering season finale of “Mad Men.” Rafa Nadal, shocked at Wimbledon again. And a Wallenda does the impossible

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Big congratulations to the Chicago Blackhawks and their fans for winning their second Stanley Cup in the last four years, in stunning fashion Monday night. Down 2-1 to the Bruins with 1:30 to go in the third period, Chicago scored twice in the last 1:19 to win. Amazing stuff. This photo just about sums up what it means to win the Cup, don’t you think?

“Mad Men” is a show that alternately delights, frustrates and angers me. It’s brilliant and wonderful and annoying and just a hell of a lot of fun to watch, especially this season, when it seemed like Matthew Weiner finally let some characters change and learn from past behavior.

Sunday night’s season finale (SPOILER ALERT! IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN IT YET, SKIP DOWN TO THE RAFAEL NADAL TENNIS PHOTO.) was very surprising, but still frustrating.
Don Draper, still as loathsome as ever, appears to have made a major breakthrough. He quit drinking cold turkey, actually did something selfless by letting Ted go to California to save his marriage (instead of Don going there to save his marriage), and actually owned up to who he really is in a huge pitch meeting with Hershey, and with his kids. Of course, he ended up getting “fired” by his partners, so maybe lying was the better way to go.
Pete Campbell, my favorite character to hate on the show, is also in bad shape, and he brought it all on himself too. (His “Not great, Bob!” in the elevator killed me with laughter).
I feel badly. for Peggy, once again loved and left by men she adored. I thought the finale gave us some sweet moments with Joan and Roger, who just seem destined to end up together, don’t they?
And Sally Draper, God bless her, continues to be awesome as a rebellious teen. Is there any doubt she’ll be selling drugs at her boarding school and listening to the Grateful Dead by next season?
Overall I thought this season was one of the best the show has had; they allowed the “real” 1960s to happen to these characters, and the writing was fantastic.
“Mad Men” has only one year left. I hope next year is just as good as this one.
And I hope Pete Campbell is never, ever happy.

nadal-wre0010155677-20130624**Last year was shocking.
This year, maybe even more so.
For the second year in a row, Rafael Nadal is going home from Wimbledon before the grass has even started to get chewed up.
I wouldn’t have believed it unless I saw it myself, but the great Spaniard spit the bit at Wimbledon again Monday, losing in the first round to a Belgian named Steve Darcis (I follow tennis very closely and even I’ve never heard of this dude).

Maybe it was a case of Nadal’s knees hurting again, with him playing too much tennis this year. Or maybe Darcis just caught fire and played the most beautiful tennis he’s ever played for about two hours.

Whatever it was, Wimbledon just got a whole lot easier for Andy Murray and Roger Federer, who could’ve had to play Nadal before the final (And say this for Federer, as tennis writer Greg Couch did on Twitter: He doesn’t lose to journeymen like Darcis at Slams. Not ever.).

Now it looks like we might get a Federer-Murray semi, which would be delicious.
As for Nadal, I really hope he’s not hurt again. The sport is so much better with him in it.

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**Finally, hope you all saw the insane stunt Nik Wallenda pulled Sunday night on the Discovery Channel, as he wire-walked 1,400 feet across the Grand Canyon, while 1,500 feet off the ground (that’s higher than the Empire State Building, FYI).

I watched it Monday after I knew he had made it safely, and I still had my heart in my throat as he walked. I enjoyed the calming commentary from Wallenda’s father, the incredible aerial views from the helicopter above, and the sheer chutzpah and courage it takes to do something like this.

But Nik Wallenda is nuts. And the Discovery Channel is even crazier for televising this. If he had fallen and died, on live television? A tragedy of the highest order.

He made it, so everyone breathed a sigh of relief. But what a crazy, insanely risky thing for Wallenda to put his family through every time he does something like this.

The hilarious tale of the 2nd black baseball player in the big leagues. An awesome impersonation of the Big 4 in Tennis. And the craziest stop-smoking technique ever

With all the attention that the new Jackie Robinson movie “42” has gotten, it’s easy to forget that Larry Doby was just as much a pioneer as Robinson was.

Doby broke in with the Cleveland Indians in July of 1947, just a few months after Robinson broke the major league color barrier by suiting up for Brooklyn.

Doby had a fine career and it’s a shame he’s been overlooked by so many simply because Robinson’s historic feat was first.

Now, to right this wrong, a clip from the W. Kamal Bell show starring “Larry Doby.” (OK, full disclosure; no wrongs are righted, I just thought this was hilarious. Hat tip to friend of the blog Sanford for sending me the clip. Watch until at least the 2:15 mark and I guarantee a few laughs)

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**Next, I have no idea who this guy Josh Berry is, but his impressions of the Big 4 in men’s tennis (Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic) are absolutely uncanny. The Nadal and Murray ones are scarily spot-on.

**Finally, I’ve heard of all kinds of ways people have to quit smoking. Some of them work, some of them … not so much.
But I think a woman in California has come up with the craziest, most ridiculous way to quit her addiction ever.
She decided that the only way to cure her nicotine fix was to get arrested.

Etta Mae Lopez stood outside a Sacramento courthouse 10 days ago waiting for a sheriff’s deputy to come out. When he did, Lopez slapped him across the face.

“She knew that the only way to quit smoking was to go to jail because they don’t allow tobacco in the jail,” deputy Matt Campoy explained. “She waited all day for a deputy to come out because she knew if she assaulted a deputy she would go to jail and be inside long enough to quit her smoking habit.”

Lopez got 63 days in jail, and Campoy got a great new nickname from his buddies on the force: Nick O’Derm.

Djokovic powers through to another Aussie Open title. Harry Reid disgusts me yet again. And an awesome NHL goal celebration.

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One of the many, many awesome things about being a tennis fan in 2013 is that the Golden Age we’ve been since about 2008 or so shows no signs of slowing down.
The storyline just changes a little. Where once it was Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal towering above all, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray creeped into the picture, and the four of them have raised the sport I love most to an un-Godly level.
And as the Federer-Nadal rivalry has dissipated, because of injuries and age, we’re so lucky to have two guy born within days of each other to carry us throug, and be the new pre-eminent rivalry.

Djokovic and Murray have already played some classics in the last two years, and it looked like Sunday’s Aussie Open final would be another. They traded tiebreak wins for the first two sets, but Djokovic (my 2nd favorite player behind Fed) ran away with the match in four sets.

He’s just so hard to beat when he’s defending like he did Sunday; Djokovic is truly the best defender I’ve ever seen, retrieving balls he has no business getting to. I thought Murray played pretty well, but couldn’t hit enough winners, or enough first serves, to hang in there.

As for my man Federer, no shame for him this tournament, going out in 5 sets to Murray in the semis. Roger is far from done.
It was really a great Aussie Open; I should’ve blogged about it more. We got a new American star on the women’s side (Sloane Stephens is fantastic), some great matches on the men’s side throughout the two weeks, and ESPN even gave us some good announcing with Chris Fowler and Patty McEnroe actually shutting up once in a while and letting the match breathe (Pam Shriver, Cliff Drysdale and Mary Joe Fernandez would not shut the hell up for even a second during the Serena-Stephens match, and it was highly annoying)

Love that the tennis year is underway. Can’t wait till the French Open in May, when Rafa will be back and healthy and ready to defend his crown.

For a really good column on Sunday’s match, check out Jason Gay’s Wall Street Journal piece here.

**Nail Yakupov of the Edmonton Oilers is 19 years old, and has major, major potential. In his third NHL game Thursday night, he scored a game-tying goal, batting the puck out of mid-air, with only five seconds left.

He then enjoyed one of the best NHL goal celebrations in years. I loved it; I wish more players would react like this when they score.

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**And finally, a few words of disgust for the Senate Majority Leader, Mr. Harry Reid, who is a Democrat that consistently continues to let down those in his party, but being a spineless, compromising, collapsing jellyfish of a man.

Late last week, without much fanfare in the press, Reid completely folded in negotiations about ending or reforming the filibuster. The filibuster, if you are not aware, is the process by which the minority party in the Senate can block legislation from coming to a vote. In the old days, Senators had to actually stand on the floor of the Senate and talk and talk and talk for as long as they wanted to filibuster (like Jimmy Stewart in the classic “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington.”

Now, a filibuster is incredibly simple; a minority party Senator simply and often anonymously says he wants to filibuster something, and poof! there goes the legislation.
It’s why a majority seemingly must have 60 votes now to do anything, and it’s yet another sign of dysfunction in Washington.

So last year, at the urging of some real Dems in the Senate, Reid decided that filibuster reform would be a big deal in 2013. He was in a strong negotiating position, his party just won the White House again, and the GOP was wounded.

And yet, Harry Do-Nothing Reid got just about ZERO reform done. He caved like he always does; he’s an awful, ineffective leader, and I wish he had lost re-election in 2010 so the Democrats could get a real leader at the top of the Senate.

Sigh. Harry Reid, what a disgrace.

Remembering 9/11, always. Andy Murray wins a pulsating U.S. Open. And the keg that looks like R2D2

Today is September 11, the 11th anniversary of the most horrific attack ever on American soil. There has been much less hoopla about it this year than last, though it strangely comforted me hearing thousands of motorcycles roaring through the streets of Manhattan Monday night, all on their way to a memorial this morning.

I know each person commemorates this awful day in their own way; some people don’t even like to think about the tragedy, while others (like me) want to be reminded of it.
I always try to watch a brilliant HBO documentary called “Telling Nicholas” on this day every year, and I also always point you to this amazing slide show created a week after the towers fell by a man named Jason Powers, called “Can’t Cry Hard Enough.”

Good luck getting through this day however you can.

**Man, professional men’s tennis is an embarrassment of riches these days. We keep getting these scintillating Grand Slam finals, one after another, with the plotlines changing faster than in a John Grisham novel, and the story keeps getting better and better.
Monday evening, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic battled hellacious wind, and each other, for nearly five hours and five sets. It was thrilling, heart-pounding stuff, as each man pounded the ball and fought the stiff breeze, trying to make the other submit.
In the end, history was made, and I think people in the UK will never forget where they were when it happened. Murray became the first British man (well, OK, he’s Scottish) since 1936 to win a Slam title, winning 6-2 in the fifth set.
It was sensational and entertaining tennis; Djokovic played such terrific defense to get in the match, and it surely looked like Murray would wilt after blowing a two sets to love lead.

After the 4th set I tweeted, only half-jokingly, that if Murray loses this after being so close he should never pick up a racket again. But I can’t imagine how crushing it would’ve been if he had lost.

But finally, the UK has a tennis champion again. Murray absolutely deserves it; he’s a worthy champ no doubt.

Man, what an incredible year in men’s tennis; four Slams, four different winners, one each for the “Big 4” in the game.

We tennis fans are so lucky to be living in this golden age.


**Finally, this needs no introduction but it’s something you should see. At LSU, they have a keg that looks like R2D2.

Yep, God bless America.